And Here’s Why: Attack on Titan

Man, the Internet is huge. There is so much content out there, and not nearly enough time to check out every context-devoid recommendation link you see in your Twitter feed, or Tumblr Roll, or whatever it’s called. “I favorited a YouTube video!” “OMG CLICK THIS SO FUNNY,” or even just a naked link in complete gibberish…is this really the best way to share the good stuff with your friends? The Irreverencia says no. We can do better! Every Thursday, @demoversi can tell you what’s worth your precious Internet time…And Here’s Why.

I’ve never been an anime reviewer. I’m not sure why, exactly; I’ve more or less proven that I can talk about almost anything, with enough baseline knowledge to not come across as a complete moron. It’s not like I don’t LIKE anime; I founded the Anime Club in my high school, back in the day. No small feat, that, considering it was a Quaker school.

I may have had a weird childhood. I’ll tell you some stories sometime.

While I don’t love Japanimation like I used to back when we called it that, I still watch a decent amount. Every now and again I’ll be convinced by some of my fellow reviewers to go watch something new, or I’ll decided that THIS is the time I’ll watch the entirety of Eyeshield 21 without giving up around episode 120 like the last two times I tried. It’s so much easier, these days. The advent of streaming video has COMPLETELY changed how accessible new content is; which is to say, a damn sight easier than bootleg 6-hour fansub VHS tapes. I’d say that I miss the nostalgic feel of all those scanline and tracking issues, but that would be a blatant lie. Besides, today’s topic is pretty recent; still going on, actually.

You should watch Attack on Titan. And here’s why.

Attack on Titan, the anime, is an adaptation of an ongoing manga series that began in 2009. I’m not going to spit artist names and studio credits; that’s what Wikipedia and Anime News Network are for, though I would caution you against reading much about the story. My goal, as is always my goal with And Here’s Why, is to get you to look at some media for like 15 minutes. For Attack on Titan, I only really need about 3. I want you to get through the opening theme. Get through that, and you’ll have a decent idea of whether you WANT to get hooked on the series. If you do, you won’t be alone. I can make a fair assumption that the theme song was pretty instrumental to this creative work, if you will pardon the pun.

The basic premise of the anime is that humanity has been basically destroyed by giant, naked humanoids. These eponymous Titans have one purpose, near as anyone in the world knows: to EAT EVERYONE. Notice I did not say “everything.” Titans ignore everything else, focusing only on eating people everywhere. By the time the story begins, the entirety of humanity is residing in one city, protected from the titans by three branches of military and AWESOME WALLS. All branches of the military are adept at using the “3D Maneuver Gear,” a lightweight, belt mounted harpoon system that essentially lets a trained user Bionic Commando their way through the air. It’s flashy and satisfying to watch in all the right ways. Kinda makes you want to have your own.

The soundtrack to the series is QUITE dramatic. The theme song is EXACTLY the kind of “RPG Final Boss” music that fills you with the desire to run, and fight, and fly, with eyes narrowed and a thirst for blood on your palate. The rest of the soundtrack does an amazing job of setting the tone, except for the ending theme, which feels like it belongs in RPG Shooter: Starwish. I don’t know why dark anime so frequently have uplifting ending themes. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I find it HIGHLY disconcerting. I’ll admit that this one isn’t as bad as others I’ve seen, but it’s still weird. There’s so much effort put into making this show really have the appropriate tone (pay attention to the color choices and stark character outlines when you watch, to see what I mean) that the ending just seems to undermine. If you want us to feel dread or determination, why the hell do you end the episode with a mezzosoprano of hope?

Please be aware: This is NOT a happy anime. The only positive feelings you MIGHT be able to wring out of this are “FUCK YEAH KICK ALL THE ASS YOU GUYS” and “WHAT THE FUCK WRITERS; WELL PLAYED.” You will probably feel both of those feels, in all-caps mode, exactly as I have written. I was able to predict a plot point using my uncanny psychic powers (i.e. genre savvy), but I was legit surprised when my prediction proved CORRECT. Well, mostly correct. Correct enough. I’m not telling YOU, though. I try not to be a dick with spoilers and the like.

I’ve seen some musings about this anime comparing it to Evangelion and Shadow of the Colossus, but I personally think the media it’s closest to is Drakengard, a PS2 game that I am super-fond of. Both have aerial movement as an essential element, both depict a world that DEEPLY feels of hopelessness, and the design of the titans is EERILY SIMILAR to the giant floating baby things that eat people. This is not to say that Eva or SotC are bad comparisons; it’s just that watching Attack on Titan reminded me SO VIVIDLY of Drakengard that I would rather be hooking up my PS2 than writing this article, just THINKING about it. To me, the darkness inherent in both are very compelling, to the point that watching/playing one makes me WANT to experience the other.

Alright, #RealTalk. I don’t know for a fact whether Attack on Titan is good, per se. Though I’ve seen a lot, a LOT of anime over the years, the vast majority of it was a loooong time ago. I’m not as up with my anime knowledge as I could be, so I tapped JesuOtaku, an anime reviewer, for some more info:

“Director Tetsuro Araki’s love of crass and harsh bombast, (as seen in the Death Note and High School of the Dead anime,) is an excellent fit for the material here, and makes the experience of sitting through it heart-racing and cathartically frightening. It takes a couple episodes for the strength of the writing to catch up with the strength of the style, but once it does, the result is an addictive and hellacious joyride with a heap of heart and substance behind it as well.” -JesuOtaku

Verbose, ain’t she?

I will concede that the first few episodes take a little bit to get through. Attack on Titan begins with a bit of a prologue, and the story doesn’t really begin in earnest until the timeskip, about four episodes in. I didn’t particularly mind; seeing the world at rest really gives you the perspective to understand just how chaotic the world becomes, and how much it must SUCK to live there.

Attack on Titan kicks all sorts of ass, but it IS gory and creepy. Intentionally so. If you’ve got the stomach for it, I HIGHLY recommend you watch it; it’s free and legal to stream it at Crunchyroll.

You might LOVE Attack on Titan if:
-You like high-action anime against impossible odds
-You crave dark storylines and can stomach a bit of gore
-You want to get in on a new fandom while it’s still young
-You want Drakengard 3 NOW dammit and need something to tide you over

Seriously guys, give it a look. Then come back and tell me ALL of your WTFs about it, okay? (But try to keep spoilers out of the comments. Be cool, yo.)

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